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How do you interpret current state of an accordion's tuning?

wirralaccordion

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I have just measured my accordions current state of tuning and would greatly appreciate comments from more learned members as I am curious to know how these readings can be interpreted, i.e. what conclusions can be drawn from these measurements, etc.
Incidentally these readings are all on the push action of the bellows and the measured pull action readings were very similar.
As stated, I used Dirks Tuner v2.3 trial version, hence hand drawn graph and limited notes.
 

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maugein96

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Phil,

I don't know an awful lot about accordion tuning, but from the figures on your graph I would call that "Jesus Christ musette!"

That's wetter than a summer's day in Donegal! 24 cents up and 25.5 down is getting pretty near the limit, although they used to say Irish tuning was 27 cents. They were wrong of course, as they still used pence in Ireland at the time.

Your middle "straight" reed looks as though it is well out of tune in places, but I don't really know what I'm looking for.

I'm sure somebody will be able to give you a more sensible reply.
 

debra

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The line that should be all 0 deviates too much: it should all be between -1 and +1 (may be -2 to +2 for the lowest notes). The deviation of -5 for C4 is too much and the -8 around F4 is way too much.
The tremolo lines show a pretty normal curve if you extrapolate/interpolate but it should not go up and down nearly as much as it does.
So in conclusion: this accordion is badly in need of tuning!
 

JerryPH

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I know so little about accordion tuning, and yet I can see that the baseline (reed #2) is just all over the place badly. Paul's right in that this is an accordion that is in bad need of a tune, but his standards for accordion tuning are very high... a plus or minus 1-2 cent is extremely accurate and the optimal tune for a professional grade accordion tuned by a consummate professional tuner and would take many long hours to complete (meaning left and right hands tuned to this standard), if done properly.

Maybe something like a +, - 2-3 cent variation is closer to being acceptable for an amateur played accordion used for the sake of pleasure and easier for most people tuning accordions to accomplish. Most men/women in the 50+ year old range might not even hear that much difference.

Also, I see reeds #1, #2, #3... but lets not forget that each set of reeds is duplicated (pushing and pulling), and that those are not mentioned in the graph. If a note is -3 in one direction and +5 in the other, that 8 cent variation becomes easily evident. Another factor/reason accordion tuning is a bigger challenge than most might think at first.
 

wirralaccordion

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Hi Jerry

Maybe something like a +, - 2-3 cent variation is closer to being acceptable for an amateur played accordion used for the sake of pleasure and easier for most people tuning accordions to accomplish. Most men/women in the 50+ year old range might not even hear that much difference.

The tuner who I am going to use reckons + or - 2 cents to be well in tune and charges £80 for the treble and a similar sum for the bass. I guess that as I am over 50 year old this will suit me for accuracy ( and also for cost! )

I now have to decide how I would like it tuning as I suppose if I dont specify how I would like the accordion to be tuned it will be tuned around what it is currently the nearest to, this being the easiest/quickest.

Most people seem to think that + 20 to -20 across 3 reeds is too wet but surely it can be argued that by using only two reeds, which would be violin or celeste on my accordion, that you have options that are -20 to 0 or 0 to +20 which are both 20 cents wide on tremolo as opposed to 40 cents?
 

debra

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wirralaccordion post_id=63771 time=1540721014 user_id=2229 said:
...
Most people seem to think that + 20 to -20 across 3 reeds is too wet but surely it can be argued that by using only two reeds, which would be violin or celeste on my accordion, that you have options that are -20 to 0 or 0 to +20 which are both 20 cents wide on tremolo as opposed to 40 cents?

About 50 years ago +20 to -20 across 3 reeds was considered a nice musette. Now people want less and less tremolo. I changed such an old accordion to +14 and -12 and that sounds better to my ears.
A celeste is supposed to be 12 cents tremolo... Musical taste changes not just in a single person but in a whole population.
 
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maugein96

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Phil,

20 cents up on a two voice celeste is quite an earful, and I would try and listen to accordions that were a bit tamer than that before I made a decision. Most musette tuned accordions in the UK have fairly strong tuning, and it really is down to personal taste.

If possible, try and get the tuner to let you hear, or at least discuss, every type of tuning from swing to "super musette" and make your choice. The difficulty is what sounds OK to one player often sounds crap to another.

Personally speaking, I start to go off musette tuning after it passes about 14 cents, but most players up here in Tartan Alley seem to prefer it up above 20 cents. French three voice musette is typically about 20 cents up and down,, but what you need to remember is the reeds are typically pinned on cork or leather on a French made box, and the sound is different from an Italian box with the same tuning. IMHO The Italian box with waxed reeds usually has a warmer sound than a French box, which has a more metallic ring to it.

Just my 14-20 cents worth.
 

wirralaccordion

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Paul deBra said

The line that should be all 0 deviates too much: it should all be between -1 and +1 (may be -2 to +2 for the lowest notes). The deviation of -5 for C4 is too much and the -8 around F4 is way too much.
The tremolo lines show a pretty normal curve if you extrapolate/interpolate but it should not go up and down nearly as much as it does.
So in conclusion: this accordion is badly in need of tuning!

Given that just-noticeable difference is generally reckoned to be about 5 cents ( I googled this ), does your criteria for tuning assume that the tuning may shift during the accordions use before it reaches a just-noticeable difference deviation of 5 cents and therefore become noticeable or is it that you would expect accordion players to have a better ear than non-players?
 

debra

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wirralaccordion post_id=64004 time=1541344435 user_id=2229 said:
...
Given that just-noticeable difference is generally reckoned to be about 5 cents ( I googled this ), does your criteria for tuning assume that the tuning may shift during the accordions use before it reaches a just-noticeable difference deviation of 5 cents and therefore become noticeable or is it that you would expect accordion players to have a better ear than non-players?

Indeed, the tuning goes off very gradually. A reed may for instance start deviating by 1 cent or so after one year of light use, and another cent the next year, etc., so it may take a few years before the average user notices a problem. I would notice the problem when the deviation is more than 1 cent (around the standard A=440) but most would not notice it.
 
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I'm curious about something in the tuning graph. I'm learning about tuning so I'm not sure if this is obvious or not. The deviations of the three reeds seem to be somewhat correlated. That is, if I look at a particular note on one reed and it's lower than where the interpolated line would be, the corresponding note on the other reeds seems likely to be low as well. Why might that be?

Edit: Just realized this conversation is two years old. I thought it was from a few days ago! Please excuse the dredging.
 
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debra

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I'm curious about something in the tuning graph. I'm learning about tuning so I'm not sure if this is obvious or not. The deviations of the three reeds seem to be somewhat correlated. That is, if I look at a particular note on one reed and it's lower than where the interpolated line would be, the corresponding note on the other reeds seems likely to be low as well. Why might that be?

Edit: Just realized this conversation is two years old. I thought it was from a few days ago! Please excuse the dredging.
No problem reviving an old thread rather than starting a new one on the same subject.
First let's look at the standard reeds (not tremolo). In my experience a tolerance/deviation of up to 1 cent is acceptable around the A4 note, going down to about 0,5 cents at A5 and higher. That is quite critical tuning. Others will probably say 2 cents at A4 and 1 cent at A5 and higher. What is most important for LMH tuning is that I should not be able to hear any beating at all when playing an octave using LMH, that means that 6 reeds are playing simultaneously. (Note I said "I should not be able to hear..." and not "you should not be able to hear...".) I have been "accused" of being too critical, but it's best if the tuner is the most critical, not the customer.
As for the tremolo, the player has to chose an amount of tremolo for A4. The example graph shows +20 and -20, which was quite common 50 years ago, but nowadays +10 and -10 or +12 and -12 at most would be more common, and in an LMMH or LMM accordion the MM can be 0 versus +14 (German) or +16 (Italian) tuning. Amsterdam or Irish tuning is more like -25, 0, +25 and I think it sounds horrible.
Once an amount is chosen, say T, the tremolo goes up as you go down the scales to a maximum of about 1.3T down to A3, and no more than that as you go further down. Going up you reduce the tremolo from T at A4 to about 2/3 of T by A5 and again about 2/3 of that (4/9 of T) by A6. As an example, when T is 12 cents, the tremolo at A5 should be about 8 cents and at A6 about 5,5 cents. The desired amount of tremolo for the highest notes is pretty much a matter of personal taste. You should consider that when the high reeds are tuned to within 0,5 cents that can result in still too much variation of the tremolo on the high notes. Even when one reed is exactly at 0 and the other is 5, 5,5 or 6 cents you will clearly hear the difference in beating, so it is very, very critical. The table shown by the OP is of an accordion that is seriously out of tune!
 

Ventura

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being an amateur for repair, my approach was more like the Piano tuning i was shown...

mainly, you tune the primary octave first, then the extended octaves, and only
AF TER you have the 88 single primary strings singing happily together
THEN you tune the strings on either side of the main ones

translate to: tune the primary M first, all 44 reeds, then tune the M- and M+
always with reference to the primary reed

of course with modern Tuning technology and knowledge built into algorithms,
you can rely entirely upon numbers, but there is something to be said for the small
vagaries of tuning that allow one accordion to sound extra sweet in some keys
while a different one is best when it is played in the key of E

so tuning an accordion so that it is in tune with ITSELF is an acceptable
approach if the result is pleasing to your ear and playing style
(some guys play everything in the key of C for instance)

and then tuning the Meusette so that it is in tune with the primary reed,
meaning you tune more to "beats" than exact pitch, is what extends the pleasure

ciao

Ventura
 

wirralaccordion

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Paul said ( above ) that
The table shown by the OP is of an accordion that is seriously out of tune!

Shortly after this post the Brandoni accordion was tuned professionally as per the attached graph to +16, 0, -5 on the three M reeds at A4. I assume that the L reed was tuned at 0! The cents deviation at A3 and A5 would by Paul’s calculation be +21 and +11 which is similar to the tuning shown. The variation from -5 on that M reed would be too small to make a similar calculation meaningful. This tuning graph will be of particular interest to LongSufferingHuman as I wouldn't expect every accordion tuner to provide such graphs to their customers.

N.B. I have recently played a little tune on this accordion ( Gran Vals ) on “I did that” and I think that the tuning shouldn’t have altered too much in the last two years. The registration chosen for this was "straight tuned" which is bandoneon on this particular accordion and so only uses the mid M reed and the L reed together..
 

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debra

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...

and then tuning the Meusette so that it is in tune with the primary reed,
meaning you tune more to "beats" than exact pitch, is what extends the pleasure

...
This is indeed very important! When the primary M has been tuned sufficiently close to perfection that you are happy with it you can first tune the tremolo using the numbers (as I indicated before), but when that has been done "close" to correct you have to fine-tune by ear. It doesn't matter what the tuning machine keeps telling you, your ears are the best test whether the tremolo is fine or not. The main M read may actually deviate from its tuning (when played alone) when the tremolo is played. And then, how the tremolo actually sounds also depends a bit on small volume differences between the M and M+ reeds, and it also depends on which reed blocks the reeds are. Typically white keys sound differently from black keys (except when the reeds for a white key are on the reed block for black keys... Only your ears can tell you when the tremolo is right.
 

debra

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... I have recently played a little tune on this accordion ( Gran Vals ) on “I did that” and I think that the tuning shouldn’t have altered too much in the last two years.
Tuning gradually starts deviating from when an accordion was tuned, but it's hard to predict by how much in what period of time. Tuning normally takes several days for all the reeds to stabilize. I have on occasion needed to retune a reed over and over again over the course of about 5 days before it would stay stable at the correct pitch. It is not unlikely that such a "stubborn" reed goes out of tune a bit more quickly than reeds that "accept" their tuning right away. (Typically very high reeds can be stubborn when you try to tune them down a bit.)
People often say that it is very bad for an accordion to not be played. While this is true, for the tuning it is also not so good when an accordion is played a lot. An accordion played no more than half an hour a day may still be quite well in tune after two years. An accordion played loudly for several hours a day will go out of tune after less than a year, sufficiently out of tune for at least some people in an audience to notice.
 

Ventura

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debra mentioned: "An accordion played loudly for several hours a day will go out of tune after less than a year, sufficiently out of tune for at least some people in an audience to notice"

my poor, over worked red Serenelli was my prime accordion for several years
of rock and roll late nights in Georgetown at Gino's...

i would play so hard some nights, that the next day i would have to pressure a
few reed tongues back into optimum position to get them to sound

years later and after a lot of repairs, i put it out to Pasture using it only
for gentle strolling during Wine Festivals in Maryland

ciao

Ventura
 

Giovanni

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Perhaps you could explain how often the accordions of players like Legends Dick Contino and Tony Lovello needed tuning !! until i saw them perform in Las Vegas I'd never ever seen accordions played so hard and also bellow shaked like crazy for so much !!!......something we are not used to seeing in the Uk ..... Giovanni
 

debra

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Perhaps you could explain how often the accordions of players like Legends Dick Contino and Tony Lovello needed tuning !! until i saw them perform in Las Vegas I'd never ever seen accordions played so hard and also bellow shaked like crazy for so much !!!......something we are not used to seeing in the Uk ..... Giovanni
For me it's hard to know this exactly. When I play and I hear that something is out of tune I will fix it, and thus not let the problems accumulate over a longer period of time. This happens about every two months, but that is spread over 5 accordions, so each accordion needs "something" tuned maybe twice a year. Players who are less critical than I am can probably last for 2 or 3 years before they will be bothered by tuning problems. But professional, especially classical, players get their accordion maintained and tuned at least once a year (and they start hearing that it's going out of tune already after half a year or less).
 
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